I had no idea Mark Penn was the creator of this kind of idiocy; thanks to the ever-redoubtable Ezra Klein, I now know who is the author of so much stupid that infected our national discourse - all the soccer moms, national security moms, NASCAR dads, and all the rest. Going all the way back to 1980 and the discovery of nonexistent "Reagan Democrats", during the 1990's we had the invocation of all sorts of supposedly important "swing voters" who were the key to winning, or at least not losing, which in an era when such became important was understood to be key.
When you devise policies for a non-existent constituency, you get bad policy - like Clinton/DLC "welfare reform". When people start intoning in tones usually reserved for speaking og the Almighty about "national security moms", you get John Kerry voting for war in Iraq, in order to cover his electoral butt. When reporters actually provide column inches to analyses of "NASCAR dads", you realize something is really wrong in America, which is why we have George W. Bush as a President.
This is another reason I am glad I have decided to support Obama. His appeal is not to groups, or even necessarily to party; his appeal is to America - and he lets his followers fill in the definition, as long as one considers the source (i.e., a bi-racial, multi-ethnic individual with a diverse religious background). Rather than the cautious politics of retail marketing to niche communities that don't exist, we have wholesale politics on a grand scale. Obama is just as wonky as Clinton, but he couches it in the language of an appeal to people; Clinton, stuck with an adviser who actually believes the crap he puts in books, is left wondering where her soccer moms and dads have all gone. To paraphrase the old folk song, they've gone to Obama all, to Obama all.
I hope Mark Penn starts advising whoever wins the Republican nomination, because he will lose even bigger than he might otherwise have done.